How To Bleach White Sheets And Towels

If there was ever a staple for the hospitality and resort industry, it's white sheets and white towels. Crisp, perfectly clean white linens are what make a place feel luxurious. Besides, it's a sign of cleanliness. Most pros do this by bleaching their sheets and towels from time to time. Did you ever want to get that same level of whiteness in your linens? Well, it means that you're going to need to give bleaching a try.

Bleaching is often seen as a euphemism for whitening your sheets and towels. There are several different methods that you can use to restore whiteness to both your sheets and towels, or "bleach" them. The most popular methods include:

  • Borax
  • Vinegar
  • Bleach
  • Baking Soda
  • Liquid Bluing

Bleach can be too rough for certain materials, so it's important to understand how to whiten your sheets by more than just one method. It's time to take a closer look at how to bleach (or whiten) sheets like a true pro. 

A stack of freshly washed white linen on an ironing board, an iron in the background, How To Bleach White Sheets And Towels

The Best Ways To Whiten Sheets And Towels

Unarranged white bed sheet and pillow

Each whitening method has its own efficacy, perks, and pitfalls. Before reaching for the bleach, it's best to take a look at all the common ways to make your towels, sheets, and other goods white as snow.


Borax is one of the most gentle whitening agents on the market, and it can be used with almost any type of bedsheet or towel. If you're worried about potentially damaging your goods, this is the best pick for you. However, it'll take longer than other bleaching methods. Here's how to do it:

  1. Add a cup of Borax to a gallon of water. Stir.
  2. Place your sheets in the mixture and soak them overnight.
  3. Wash your sheets as you normally would, using gentle detergent. 

Click here to get Borax from Amazon.


If you've ever used vinegar to keep a laundry basket smelling fresh, you already know how much of a world-class cleaning agent it is. Unsurprisingly, it is excellent to whiten laundry and remove those yellow stains that often show up on sheets. It works great for soaking and spot cleaning too! Here's how to use this one:

  1. Mix half a cup of vinegar per gallon of water in a large tub or a bucket. 
  2. Drop your sheets and towels in the bucket, and stir them using a stick. 
  3. Let the sheets soak in your tub for an hour.
  4. Remove the sheets from the tub, then launder as usual. 
  5. Air dry them to make the smell of vinegar completely vanish.

Click here to get a gallon of vinegar from Amazon.


Bleach is one of the most caustic substances you can use to lighten your sheets and towels. Yet, people still search up how to bleach sheets and towels for a reason. While it's relatively rough on delicate fibers, bleach remains one of the most foolproof and effective ways to get that whiteness. Here's how to use it:

  1. Before you start, check your sheets' labels to see if they allow bleach. If they do not, choose another whitening method for your linens. 
  2. If your linens are bleach-friendly, then start by laundering them like you normally would. This removes the oils that may turn yellow with exposure to bleach. 
  3. Next, add half a cup of bleach to the drum of laundry and run your laundry through a secondary wash cycle. 
  4. Let your laundry air dry. 

Click here to get bleach from Amazon.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is one of the most popular whitening and cleaning agents for your home, even when it comes to materials that aren't fabric. Unsurprisingly, this stuff offers a quick, gentle way to lighten up most towels and sheets too. To use baking soda, follow the steps below:

  1. Add half a cup of baking soda to your regular laundry detergent. 
  2. Launder as usual.
  3. Air dry or use your dryer to finish the job.

Click here to get laundry detergent from Amazon.

Liquid Bluing

Liquid bluing is one of the better options for spot cleaning deep yellow stains, but realistically, it's not a typical whitener. Rather, this adds a little blue to your sheets and towels, counteracting the yellowness that most sheets get. It's a lot like how people use purple shampoos to reduce brassiness in dyed har. 

This is a fairly potent option, which means that you should be very careful when applying it.  This technique below is one of the best ways to use it:

  1. Mix 1/2 teaspoon of liquid bluing with two quarts of water.
  2. Pour this mixture over your laundry, then apply the regular amount of detergent. Do not use bleach, fabric softener, or other similar products. Just stick to plain detergent, as other products will react with the bluing.
  3. Run the wash as you normally would. 

Click here to get liquid bluing from Amazon.

It's worth noting that liquid bluing is technically a dye. Over time, the bluing can actually wear off. As such, it's important to keep on top of bluing your sheets, especially if they are prone to yellowing. 

Important Things To Know When Whitening Your Laundry

Outdoor photo of Clean towels freshly folded in a basket

Laundry is never just a matter of running things in the wash. To prevent your laundry from having bad stains or being damaged, it's essential to ask the right questions. The questions below are the most important to keep in mind.

Can You Wash White Towels With White Sheets?

While they seem like they would be like two peas in a pod, the truth is that you should not wash towels and sheets together. Each fabric has its own needs, which means that you may end up damaging one if you put them in the same barrel as the other. Sheets should be washed on a more delicate cycle. 

Does Bleach Turn White Yellow?

This is a common misconception that people have, but it is somewhat true. Bleach normally whitens sheets and towels. However, it also can react with the oils found in the skin. When a reaction occurs, the color of the sheet will appear slightly more yellow. This is why you need to launder your sheets before you bleach them.

Do You Need To Rinse After Cleaning With Bleach?

Bleach is fairly rough on clothing and fabrics. This is why you need to be pretty proactive in reducing the potential damage it can cause by being left on your sheets. Rinsing is a surefire way to ensure that any residue from the bleach will not harm your clothing. It's generally a good idea and won't harm your sheets.

Can You Bleach Colored Towels?

This all depends on the type of bleach. Nonchlorine bleach is generally deemed safe on most colored fabrics, while chlorinated bleach might not. Even so, it's best to err on the side of caution if you want to bleach your colored towels. Heavy use of bleach can weaken towel fibers, thereby reducing absorbency. The tips below will help minimize your chances of damage.

  • Separate lights and darks, even when you're using bleach. 
  • Check the tag on your towels. If the tag advises you to avoid bleaching, do not bleach them. They may not be colorfast enough to handle it.
  • Choose to use hot water instead of bleach for minor brightening procedures. 
  • Consider using a bleach alternative instead since these can be gentler on delicate fabrics.
  • Never attempt to use bleach directly on colors. Bleach left unchecked will leave unsightly stains. 

Click here to get a bleach alternative from Amazon.

How Can I Whiten My Whites Naturally?

As people become more focused on living a natural lifestyle, it's become clear that having natural laundry methods is better for the environment and people. Thankfully, there are several easy ways that you can whiten whites without having to resort to lab-created goods. 

Two of the most popular ways to whiten whites naturally involve the vinegar and baking soda methods mentioned above. If you're low on either cooking material, there's still another way that you can whiten those whites. The other major trick you can use to brighten up laundry involves none other than good old fashioned lemon juice.

Wondering how to make this happen? All you need to do is follow the steps below:

  1. Grab a lemon from your kitchen. 
  2. Squeeze all the juice from the lemon into a cup. 
  3. Pour the cup of lemon juice into your laundry batch, then add a typical amount of detergent. 
  4. Run the washing machine as usual. The lemon juice should help whiten your whites.

How Do Hotels Keep Their Sheets So White?

According to an insider, this has to do with the in-house washing method they use. The most common method they use is as follows:

  1. Treat and address any stains that you might notice. 
  2. Then, they will wash the sheets like they normally would. 
  3. Next, the sheets go through another wash, this time with a fabric softener. 
  4. Finally, the third wash session will involve rewashing the sheets in a very diluted bleach solution. This should be the final brightening wash you'll need to get the crisp white sheets you see in a hotel.


Keeping both towels and sheets white as snow isn't easy. There's a natural proclivity towards yellowing that white towels, clothes, and sheets always have. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to combat yellowing and other stains. Many of the most effective methods do not use caustic substances like bleach to get the job done. 

Whenever possible, it's better to try to avoid the use of bleach since it can harm your linens. So, if you want to get the beautiful whiteness often ascribed to bleach, try something along the line of baking soda or laundry bluing first. You might find that the perfect ingredient for crisp, fresh sheets is a lot gentler than you would have thought it to be.

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